Math Games for Third Graders

It may seem obvious to most third grade teachers and parents of third graders that multiplication is THE big skill to be learned in third grade. There are many great multiplication games for third graders.

However, as an elementary mathematics specialist, I have noticed that a great many third graders struggle with regrouping (borrowing and carrying). Most of the time, this is because they have been taught place value with only pencil and paper activities, which are not an effective or concrete enough way to teach place value for real understanding.

Once children have developed a basic number sense for numbers up to ten, a strong “sense of ten” needs to be developed as a foundation for both place value and mental calculations.

Ten is, of course, the building block of our Base Ten numeration system. Young children can usually “read” two-digit numbers long before they understand the effect the placement of each digit has on its numerical value. For example, a five-year-old might be able to correctly read 62 as sixty-two and 26 as twenty-six, and even know which number is larger, without understanding why the numbers are of differing values.

Place value is vitally important to all later mathematics. Without it, keeping track of greater numbers rapidly becomes impossible. (Can you imagine trying to write 999 with only ones?) A thorough mastery of place value is essential to learning the operations with greater numbers. It is the foundation for regrouping in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The follow are two very effective math games for teaching and reinforcing place value:

Double- or Triple-Digit Addition

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards – 10s and face cards removed
paper and pencil for each person

Shuffle deck and place cards in a pile face down. Players take turns taking a card until both players have 4 cards (for double –digit addition) or 6 cards (for triple-digit addition) and arrange them to make a two- or three-digit addition problem. The object is to make the greatest sum. When each player is done arranging their cards, they write their problem down and find their sum. Players exchange papers and check each other’s addition.

The player with the greatest sum scores a point. Each player takes four or 6 new cards and play continues. The first player with 10 points is the winner.

Variation #1: the player with the smallest sum wins.

Double- or Triple-Digit Subtraction

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards, 10s and face cards removed
paper and pencils

Shuffle cards well and stack them face down in a pile. Both players take four cards (for double-digit subtraction) or 6 cards (for triple-digit subtraction). Players arrange their cards to make a two-digit or three-digit subtraction problem. The object is to make the smallest difference (answer).

Players move their four or six cards around until they think they have the smallest difference (answer) possible. Each player then writes down his/her problem and solves it. Players trade papers and check each other’s computation for accuracy. Players compare answers. The player with the smallest difference (answer) scores one point.

Each player takes 4 or 6 more cards and play continues. The first player to score 10 points is the winner.

Variation: Player with the greatest difference wins.

Math Games for Second Graders

If you are the parent of a child who has just finished second grade and will be going into the third grade in a month or two, how are you going to keep his/her math skills honed so that he/she is completely ready for third grade math? As an elementary math specialist, I have found that math games are perfect summer skill sharpeners.

By the end of grade two, students should:

• understand place value and number relationships in addition and subtraction
• use simple concepts of multiplication
• be able to measure quantities with appropriate units
• classify shapes and see relationships among them by paying attention to their geometric attributes
• collect and analyze data and verify the answers.

As a veteran second grade teacher, I have found that understanding place value and number relationships is the most important skill that second graders need to practice and master.

The following games are two of many second grade/third grade games that help children understand and have fun with place value:

Who Will Win?

What you need:
2 players
1 die
deck of cards, 10s and face cards removed
counters (pennies, paperclips, etc.)

Player #1 takes a card and turns it over for all to see. Player #2 does the same. Player #1 takes a second card and turns it over for all to see. Player #2 does the same. Each player uses his/her two cards to make a two-digit number. Players say their numbers out loud. Player #1 rolls the die to determine who will earn a counter.

1,3,5 odd roll – the lower number earns a counter
2,4,6 even roll – the higher number earns a counter.

Players continue building numbers and alternating the throw of the die. The first player to accumulate 10 counters is the winner.

Get Close to 100

What you need:
2 – 4 players
deck of cards, 10s and face cards removed
paper and pencils for each player

The object of the game is to make a two-digit addition problem that comes as close to 100 as possible.

Shuffle cards and place them face down in a pile.

Player #1 turns over 4 cards and moves the cards around until he/she has created a two-digit addition problem whose sum will be as close to 100 as he/she can make it. Player #1 records this problem on his/her recording sheet. Player #2 checks for addition accuracy.

Example: Player #1 draws a 4, a 7, a 2, and a 5. He/she moves the cards around until she/he decides that 47 + 52 = 99 is the closest that he/she can get.

Player # 2 draws four cards and does the same.

The points for each round are the difference between their sum and 100.
Example: A sum of 95 scores 5 points and so does a sum of 105.

Players compare scores at the end of this first round. They put their four cards in a discard pile and player #2 begins first and turns over four more cards for the second round.

After six rounds, players total their points and the player with the lowest score wins.

Memorizing Multiplication Facts

Memorizing multiplication facts is an essential part of elementary education. A student who has mastered multiplication gains a solid foundation for achievement in mathematics throughout high school and beyond.

More and more in my teaching career, I see that many children struggle to memorize the multiplication tables. With the math curriculum as extensive as it is, teachers cannot afford to take the time to ensure that students learn the basic facts (sad, but true). Parents are partners in the process, and you can offer greater opportunities for your child to succeed in math if you support the learning of the basics at home. Math games fit the bill wonderfully!

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When working on multiplication, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of developing automatic recall of the multiplication facts. They can be boring and tedious to learn and practice.

A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Give these games a try:

Buzz (try this game in the car, or while everyone is doing the dishes, etc.)

This game is used to review a specific fact family. The leader chooses a number between 2 and 9. The leader says 1, the next player says the 2, and so on. When they reach a multiple of the number chosen, the player says “buzz” instead of the number. If a player forgets to say buzz or says it at the wrong time, he or she is out. Play continues until the group reaches the last multiple of the number times 10.

What’s Your Number?
On a piece of paper write a multiplication problem that your child is having a hard time remembering, (e.g. 7×8). Pin it to the child where he/she can easily see it.The child no longer has a name. When someone wants to speak to the him/her, they must call them by their answer (e.g. “56”).

Break My Eggs

Write numbers in the bottom of egg cartons. Write 1 through 6 in the top row and 7 through 12 in the bottom row. Put two buttons in the egg carton. Close the lid. Player #1 shakes the carton and multiplies the two number together. If Player #1 gets the correct answer, he/she gets a point. Player #2 shakes the egg carton and does the same. After 20 rounds, or 10 minutes, the player with the most points wins the game.

Want other great multiplication games – there are many! See the third grade manual of games.

Math Games and Math Homework

The finding by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel declared math education in the United States “broken” and called on schools to focus on teaching fundamental math skills that provide the underpinning for success in high tech jobs.

The panel said that students must be able to add and subtract whole numbers by the end of third grade and be skilled at adding and subtracting fractions and decimals by the end of fifth grade.

One of the ways that we, as teachers, have traditionally given students more practice on their math skills is homework, and yet, eighty-four percent of kids would rather take out the trash, clean their rooms, or go to the dentist than do their math homework.

So how can we help our students with their math skills and make math homework more engaging? Math games!

More and more in my teaching career, I see that children no longer memorize their addition facts or multiplication tables. With the math curriculum as extensive as it is, teachers cannot afford to take the time to ensure that students learn the basic facts (sad, but true!). Parents are partners in the process and will offer greater opportunities for their children to succeed in math if they support the learning of the basics at home. Games fit the bill wonderfully!

Games offer a pleasant way for parents to get involved in their children’s education. Parents don’t have to be math geniuses to play a game. They don’t have to worry about pushing or pressuring their children. All that parents have to do is propose a game to their child and start to play.

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Math Games and the Last Few Weeks of School

The Big Test is over. Yeah! The long Memorial Day weekend is past, or soon will be. Sigh! You’re way beyond burned out and thinking mostly about summer. You can’t figure out how you’re going to get through the next few weeks.

I have a great idea! Give a math game a try! Games can help children learn important mathematical skills and processes with understanding.

Besides that they:

• support concept development in math
• meet math standards
• offer multiple assessment opportunities which will help with report cards
• are great for diverse learners such as English-language learners
• encourage mathematical reasoning
• are easy to prepare
• are easy to vary for extended use and differentiated instruction
• improve basic skills
• enhance basic number and operation sense
• encourage strategic thinking
• promote mathematical communication
• promote positive attitudes towards math

Pick a skill set you know your students need to practice, and then find the right game that will offer practice with that skill set. The students will be engaged and quite willing to involve themselves in the repetitive practice needed to hone their skills.

Fun and (Math) Games!

Saturday School A Success At Lincoln Elementary reads the headline from Madison, Wisconsin. Even on a Saturday, and even on a day that felt like summer, dozens of students at one elementary school spent the morning in class.

Every Saturday since the end of January, about 100 students have gathered for about two hours a week to get a little extra work done and to do so while having a little bit of fun. It is easy to assume that kids would want to be anywhere but school on a weekend morning, but this program is proving to be different. Instead of traditional instruction, students learn through playing games.

It seems somehow sad to me that kids are allowed to have fun with math only on Saturdays. Why isn’t math engaging, challenging, and fun all the time? As a veteran elementary teacher, I do understand that teachers feel like they don’t have enough time to teach all of the content within the course of a school year. Why on earth would they ever want to add more material in the form of math games when they can’t seem to finish the assigned math textbook? Turns out that making time to incorporate math games in the classroom can lead to rich results. I’ve been using games to teach mathematics for many years, and here are some of the significant benefits of doing so:

Benefits of Using Math Games in the Classroom

• Meets Mathematics Standards
• Easily Linked to Any Mathematics Textbook
• Offers Multiple Assessment Opportunities
• Meets the Needs of Diverse Learners (UA)
• Supports Concept Development in Math
• Encourages Mathematical Reasoning
• Engaging (maintains interest)
• Repeatable (reuse often & sustain involvement
• Open-Ended (allows for multiple approaches & solutions)
• Easy to Prepare
• Easy to Vary for Extended Use & Differentiated Instruction
• Improves Basic Skills
• Enhances Number and Operation Sense
• Encourages Strategic Thinking
• Promotes Mathematical Communication
• Promotes Positive Attitudes Toward Math
• Encourages Parent Involvement

Pick a skill that your students need to practice. One of the big ones is subtraction at any level. Kindergarteners through 6th graders find subtraction to be a challenge. Here’s a great double-digit subtraction game:

500 Shakedown

What you need:
2 players
2 dice
paper and pencil for each

Each player starts with 500 points.

Player #1 rolls the dice and makes the biggest two-digit number he/she can. Now he/she subtracts this number from 500.

Example: Player #1 rolls a 2 and a 4 and makes 42. Now he/she subtracts 42 from 500.

Player #2 rolls the dice and does the same. Players continue to alternate turns. The first person to reach 0 wins.

There’s only one complication! When you throw a 1, the rules change. You don’t subtract. Instead you make the smallest two-digit number you can and add.

Example: If the player throws a 1 and a 5, the smallest two-digit number is 15. So he/she adds 15 to the total.

Variation: Start with 5,000 points and use three dice or start with 50,000 and use 4 dice.

Summer Math for the Fun of It!

Summer is coming. What are you going to do to keep your child’s math skills from losing ground? Research has shown that there is clearly a case for use it or lose it with math. Teachers know that students return to school in the fall with a 1 to 2 month loss in math skills. Not good, and definitely not necessary.

Carrie Launius, a veteran teacher, has this to say in her article titled, “Keeping Kids Busy During Summer”, “Card games like solitaire are very good for kids to practice mental math and math thinking as well as Gin, Rummy, or Spades”.

It is essential that, over the summer vacation, parents create active and memorable learning experiences for their children in math. “Children learn more effectively when information is presented through the use of active learning experiences instead of passive ones”, reports Marilyn Curtian-Phillps, M. Ed.

Parents often get caught up in having their child do workbook pages from some expensive book that they order or buy from a teacher store. Just give them authentic, real world experiences where learning can take place naturally. Math games are much more appropriate and engaging than workbooks, dittos, or even flashcards.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Playing math games is even more beneficial than spending the same amount of time drilling basic facts using flash cards. Not only are games a lot more fun, but the potential for learning and reasoning about mathematics is much greater, as well. In a non-threatening game format, children will be more focused and retention will be greater.

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce, sharpen, and extend math skills over the summer. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (remember those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Here’s an example of a great game for children who need to sharpen their multiplication skills:

Salute Multiplication

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards, face cards removed

Shuffle deck and place face down in a pile.

Player #1 turns over the top card and places it face up on the table for all to see.

Player #2 draws a card and does not look at it. Player 2 holds the card above his or her eyes so that player #1 can see it, but he can’t.

Player #1 multiplies the 2 cards mentally and says the product out loud.

Player #2 listens and decides what his or her card must be and says that number out loud.

Example: Player #1 turns over a 6 for all to see. Without looking at it,
player #2 puts a 4 on his forehead. Player #1 mentally
multiplies 6 x 4 and says, “24”. Player #2 must figure out
6 x ? = 24.

Both players decide if the response is correct. If it is, player #1 gets 1 point.

Players reverse roles and play continues until one player has 10 points.

Math Games – a Great Summer Skill Sharpener!

Many οf thе math computational skills whісh generally аrе nοt practiced over thе summer, аrе simply forgotten. Parents can help their children retain and sharpen their mathematics skills this summer by doing and supporting math at home.

Math games offer targeted practice in math fundamentals. Games can, if you select the right ones, help children learn almost everything they need to practice and master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

The following dice game gives first graders, second graders, and third graders practice with addition and subtraction.

Get Close to 105

What you need:
2 or more players
3 dice
pencils and paper for everyone

The object of this game is to get a final score closer to 105 than any other player.

Player #1 rolls the dice, adds them together, and puts the sum as his/her score for that round.

Player #2 rolls the dice, and does the same as player #1.

At the end of 10 rounds (and everyone has to take 10 rounds), the player with the score closest to 105 wins the game.

Variation: Players can make the goal number anything they want, such as 147, etc. Is there a target score that will be too high for three dice and 10 rounds? A question for the kids, not the parents.

Never forget that games are supposed to be fun! If pleasure is not connected to the game, children will be unwilling to play and little learning will take place.

A Math Game for First, Second, and Third Graders

When working with first graders, second graders, and sometimes even third graders, I have found that when asked, “How much is your number + 10 (e.g., 23 + 10)”, they struggle to know the answer and end up counting on their fingers. Counting on fingers is a good beginning strategy, but as children gain in number sense, fingers should no longer be necessary. The same is true if I ask, “How much is your number -10?”

A major learning goal for students in the primary grades is to develop an understanding of properties of, and relationships among, numbers. Building on students’ intuitive understandings of patterns and number relationships, teachers can further the development of this one aspect of number concepts and logical reasoning by using a math game Tens and Ones.

Tens and Ones

What you need:
2 players
0-99 chart for each player (find one and download it from the internet or have your child make one using a 10×10 grid.
1 counter (button, paper clip, rock, etc.) for each player
1 regular die with instructions for rolling (following)

Roll 1 or 2 – +10
Roll 3 or 4 – +1
Roll a 5 – -1
Roll a 6 – -10

Each player places a counter on the zero on his/her own 1-99 chart. Players take turns rolling the die.

Player #1 rolls the die and moves his/her counter according to the roll on his/her 0-99 chart. Player #1 checks to make sure that player #2 agrees and then hands the die to player #2.

Player #2 follows the same steps as player #1 using his/her own 0-99 chart.

It may be visually helpful to have the child roll the die, leave the counter where it is and then count on using his finger. When he/she reaches +10, the player will then be able to see that he/she is exactly one row down from where he/she started. Then the counter can be moved to the new spot.

The winner is the first player to move his/her counter to 99. To win a player must land on 99 exactly. For example, if a player lands on 90 and rolls a +10 on the next turn, the player must pass, as there are only nine boxes from 90 to 99. Players may not move their counters past 99 and off the chart.

Memorizing the Basic Facts with Math Games

Frank L. Palaia, PhD, is a science teacher in the Lee County School District and at Edison State College. As a guest columnist for the News-Press.com of Ft. Myers, Florida, he had this to say about students in his classes, “Most students today have not memorized basic math facts in elementary and middle school. Each year there will be otherwise intelligent junior or senior students in my high-school classes who asks a question like, “What is eight times seven?”

As an elementary math specialist, I see that children no longer memorize their addition facts or multiplication tables. With the math curriculum as extensive as it is, teachers cannot afford to take the time to ensure that students learn the basic facts (sad, but true).

Parents are partners in the process, and can offer greater opportunities for their child to succeed in math if they support the learning of the basics at home. Math games fit the bill wonderfully!

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (I’m sure you remember memorizing those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Games are fun and create a context for developing children’s mathematical reasoning. Through playing and analyzing games, children also gain computational fluency by describing more efficient strategies and discussing relationships among numbers.

First graders and second graders need to have the addition facts to 10 in long-term memory. When they hear 6+4, they immediately know (without counting fingers) that the answer is 10. Using fingers to count is a good, early strategy but with practice, those facts should be automatic.

Third graders and fourth graders need to have all of the multiplication facts to automaticity.

Methods such as flash cards, dittos, and workbook pages stress rote memorization of basic number facts and are usually boring and do not require learners to participate actively in thought and reflection. They do not go easily or quickly into long-term memory.

Games teach or reinforce many of the skills that a formal curriculum teaches, plus a skill that math homework sometimes, mistakenly, leaves out – the skill of having fun with math, of thinking hard and enjoying it.